Verse 2–4: “Five of them were foolish, and five prudent; when the foolish ones took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the others took flasks of oil with their lamps.”
The Parable of the Bridegroom is often used as an admonition to be ready for the Second Coming of Christ. From a literal perspective, this is seen as an external event that will be marked by the physical return of the historical Jesus. From a symbolic perspective (informed by analytical psychology), the Second Coming is an internal process that occurs when we acknowledge, integrate, and consciously relate unconscious (unknown) and disconnected aspects of the Self/God Within to the self/ego.
The Scripture gives us a clue as to what is necessary for the Second Coming—oil. Webster’s Dictionary states oil is a substance that is combustible, soluble in ether, and stains. It is slick and greasy and composed of organic matter. These qualities aptly describe our passions and desires.
Our most powerful impulses and longings are organic; they emanate from deep within us instead of being imposed by our heads. We know these impulses are present because of our felt experience—our body sensations, intuitions, emotions and the resulting thoughts and feelings. Sometimes, the impulses appear in explosive ways at unexpected times. We do the unexpected and scare ourselves. At other times, our desires and passions fuel our action towards an outcome—a personal change or a collective cause. (Many service groups begin because of one person’s passion around a cause.)
Passion and desire get a bad rap from most religious viewpoints, being seen as the cause of suffering and the origin of outrageous acts of sexuality and aggression. Yet, the Proverbs states, “our heart’s desires are God’s promises to us.” Desire is what “lights one’s fire.” Passion motivates us to take action and moves something from the realm of potential (thoughts) to actuality (actions). Passion is the psychic fuel that lights the way for connecting with and integrating previously unknown parts of our Selves, which is how the ego unites with the Self/God Within.
The Scripture points to the necessity of being aware of our desires and passions and carrying them with intention. Much of the time, we go through life like the “foolish ones.” We carry a source of light, but we forget about the oil. We dismiss our desires and passions, so we miss the opportunity to light the way and see where we can join with our larger nature, the Self/God Within. Our preparedness for encountering God Within is directly related to remembering our “oil.”
Take a few minutes to become aware of the desires and passions stirring in you at this time. Where have you said or acted in unexpected or unanticipated ways? Where have you been intentional in cultivating and pursuing your heart’s desires? Ask the Self/God Within to help you be conscious of your desires and passions and to intentionally hold them for the clear moment and place of action.